Six million Vietnamese lifted out of poverty in five years: report

By Viet Tuan   December 20, 2018 | 09:21 am GMT+7
Six million Vietnamese lifted out of poverty in five years: report
A H'Mong boy ploughs his family's terraced rice field in the northern Ha Giang Province. Vietnam has lifted its poverty reduction but minorities are still among the poorer. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
In Vietnam, extreme poverty dropped to 2 percent in 2016 but poverty remains widespread among ethnic minorities, a new report shows.

The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on Tuesday released a multi-dimensional poverty report analyzing the lack of access to five services: healthcare, housing, clean water, toilets and information.

Nguyen Thang, one of its authors, said the poverty rate decreased from nearly 16 percent in 2012 to 9 percent in 2016, meaning six million people escaped poverty during this period.

The extreme poverty rate, described as earning less than $1.9 per day, dropped to 2 percent.

This has seen Vietnam move up nine places from 66th to 57th out of 193 countries in the United Nations for Sustainable Development Index in 2018.

According to the report, health access has improved significantly with health insurance enhanced for the entire population. The rate of information deprivation reduced due to the penetration of smartphones and the internet. However, housing and sanitation have not made much progress.

But these achievements notwithstanding, the discrepancy in poverty reduction rates between ethnic groups remained wide.

In 2016 ethnic minority groups had incomes and expenditures of only half that of the majority groups Kinh and Hoa (of Chinese origins); 44 percent of the ethnic minorities did not have a degree, twice as high as the Kinh and Hoa. Also, almost 80 percent of Kinh and Hoa had access to sanitary latrines, while only 24 percent of ethnic minorities did.

"Geographic distance is one of the biggest barriers to improving the well-being of ethnic minorities," the report said.

Vietnam’s progress in poverty reduction is a success on a global scale, according to Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP's Resident Representative in Vietnam. But she said poverty remains in many areas, especially where ethnic minorities live.

According to evidence, the multi-dimensional rate poverty in the northwest and Central Highlands, home to most of the minority group communities in the country, is double the national average. In 2016 while the Kinh ethnic group’s multi-dimensional poverty rate was 6.4 percent, the ethnic minorities suffered much higher rates: It was 76.2 percent among the H'mong, 37 percent among the Dao and 23.7 percent among the Khmer.

Wiesen said Vietnam needs to strengthen support for business development, financial access and incubation for ethnic minority people.

"Whether Vietnam can continue to reduce poverty successfully depends on its ability to ensure growth, create better jobs for its people and effectively help those who are left behind."

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